I challenged my friends to tell me why I’m wrong about my impervious ideas. In this edition of You’re Wrong, Daniel, writer Tony McMillen proves that my X-Men opinions are definitely not made of adamantium.
I love the idea of Mimic. Later comics would form him into “Powerful dude with a swimmer’s build,” which is a body type shared by most of the X-Men, but look at his first cover. The tagline should be “The X-Men take on a true abomination in the eyes of the lord.” Or just “Yeeesh. This fuckin’ guy.” In a time period where the X-Men villains were either A) big guys, B) old guys, or C) Toad, Mimic stood apart as a mixture of all three. He blackmailed his way into becoming an X-Men member and didn’t even attempt to fit in or be less of a jerk until he lost his powers entirely in one of those tragic Marvel “get your powers ripped out of you” events that happen every few months.
Tony’s Counter Pick: Mystique
Fucking Mimic? For real? Okay, fine, I will remain civil: ….Fucking Mimic? Alright, (deep breath) Positives: Not a mutant.
That’s kind of cool to have a non gene-joke (hate words) on the team.
Negatives: Everything else. I’m just not super keen on power absorption as a character’s main thing and you shouldn’t be either. It’s a lazy superpower. Might as well just have inserted an editorial caption into each panel Mimic was featured in that read, “Out of ideas, imagine something good until we come up with it. Excelsior.”
Now on to my pick: So power absorption is totally bereft of originality and merit. Shapeshifting, however? Completely credible power. Which means I’ll go with Mystique. Like Mimic, she started out as a villain (okay, she’s mostly a villain but she has joined the team every now in then in the movies and comics) but unlike Mimic, it’s not about using people’s own powers against them; that’s some elementary school villainy. Mystique is about using people’s own emotions and identities against them, which is straight up Middle School villainy. It’s Middle School Machiavellian (big up to Pac.) She’s all about figuring out what makes the X-Men tick emotionally and then twisting that against them. Basically, she pretends to be other people and then fucks up their relationships with each other. She would have ruled the school in 8th grade, and 8th grade is about where the maturity levels of most X-Men top out.
Another cool angle she brings to the table is that she’s in bed with everyone, and not in that way; (okay, sometimes in that way too) she plays all the sides against each other in order to get what she wants. And I always love that in a character.
And on top of all that, she possesses one of the most striking and elegant designs in comics, thanks to Mr. Dave Cockrum. Mystique is easily one of the top characters in the pantheon.
People flipped out when they saw Nightcrawler in X-Men 2. And aside from Cyclops, he was the best character in the Genesis game X-Men 2: Clone Wars because he could beat villains just by teleporting next to them. All the other characters were damaged when they showed up on the same screen as the bad guy. Controlling Nightcrawler was the easiest way to make you feel like you were playing an actual game, and not a Danger Room simulation that’d been set to Difficulty Level: This Game Sucks.
He’s also a great introduction to the X-Men when it comes to convoluted backstories. Every mutant has enough relatives and former affiliations to overload Cerebro, so it’s nice to start the kids out with Nightcrawler. He’s blue. Mystique is also blue. He’s her son. Boom. Welcome to comics, kids. You’ll enjoy some of them.
Tony’s Counter Pick: Nightcrawler
….I agree. Dude is even name-checked in a Weezer song, back when Weezer was still good. But besides all that, there’s nothing wrong with Nightcrawler. Perfect name, perfect design, great powers, great backstory. And most importantly, a winning personality. He’s even a good German and comic books just don’t make those….for some reason. The real reason why Nightcrawler is a great character for a team book like X-Men is because of his upbeat, ain’t adventure great personality. Which is a perfect foil for all the other sad sacks and grim pants on the roster. Pair him with Wolvie, now we have some fun banter while we’re smashing sentinels and Logan’s not all, “Waah, the government gave me metal bones and took away my lifetime of sad-as-shit memories.” Pair him with Kitty Pryde, now we’re not all John Hughes about Professor X being the worst stand-in, telepathic, hoverchair dad ever.
You did good, Daniel. I’m proud of you.
Storm doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, she’s claustrophobic but when all of the other X-Men are throwing tantrums about how sad they are, Storm holds strong. Either rocking the long hair, or that sweet Mohawk, Storm doesn’t bother with the X-Men’s greatest nemesis (self-doubt), and instead tackles the foes that Jean and Scott are just too depressed to handle. Also, in the X-Men: Legends games, she’s the only character that really gets anywhere with her upgrades. Only Storm gets the chance to master a full range of powers, instead of the typical “Power you already had, but slightly bigger.”
Tony’s Counter Pick: Dazzler
I love Storm and agree that she doesn’t get enough credit but I think that’s because she hasn’t been used properly. And part of that is because since she’s been written into the leadership role, she runs the risk of being boring and milquetoast, a la Cyclops. But they’ve remedied this with Scott Summers in the last decade or two by making him either a tightly wound, reliable guy who never gets the credit, or a massive fuck-up who used to be a tightly wound, reliable guy. Cyclops is now the most interesting dude on the squad. But Storm hasn’t had that yet.
My fave Storm is still Mohawk, no powers Storm. Stories like Lifedeath and Lifedeath II are some of my favorite Storm moments but she doesn’t have a wealth of stories like this to make her one of the most fully realized X-Men, which again, is a shame because she should be. So I’m gonna give you a half point on this one. Because Storm is exceptional but hasn’t been written well in a while, which isn’t your fault.
So, I’m going to offer up another character worthy of half point status…Dazzler. Dazzler was basically anti-everything I was about when I was a ten-year-old boy (she was unrepentantly girly, fun, had no pouches or guns) which is why I love her now. There is so much untapped potential in the concept of a pop star who is also a mutant that it kills me. She basically could be used like how they use the gods in The Wicked and Divine now. Or they could have her as an analog for any pop diva experiencing their rise and fall and possible rise again in the public eye. They could have been using Dazzler to showcase all the points that all of those great X-Force Milligan stories have about famous mutants and the way America loves to emulate but not embrace outsider cultures (black culture, gay culture, anything that isn’t white, straight guy culture basically) and show Dazzler’s view about mutantdom being co-opted and her complicity in it. Or think about Beyonce right now and “Formation.” That could be Dazzler at the Superbowl, telling the world that mutants are tied of the bullshit, and of getting killed in the streets. And you could have her changing up her style the whole time: punk, glam, gangsta rap, whatever. Or, even cooler, have her be from the early 80s and stuck in our modern world, wearing dorky jeans and missing Magnum P.I. moustaches on men. ….SO MUCH POTENTIAL.